Eileen Gray

    Attributes

    • Female
    • International style

    About the artist

    1878: Was born in Brownswood, Enniscorthy
    1976: Died in Paris at age 98

    Neglected for most of her career, Eileen Gray (1878-1976) is now regarded as one of the most important furniture designers and architects of the early 20th century and the most influential woman in those fields. Her work inspired both modernism and Art Deco.

    In the August 1917 issue of British Vogue magazine a writer described the work of Miss Gray, a lacquer artist who had fled her home in Paris to seek refuge in London during World War I. “Influenced by the modernists is Miss Gray’s art, so they say,” it began. “But is it not rather that she stands alone, unique, the champion of a singularly free method of expression.”

    Eileen Gray was to “stand alone” throughout her career first as a lacquer artist, then a furniture designer and finally as an architect. At a time when other leading designers were almost all male and mostly members of one movement or another – whether a loose grouping like De Stijl in the Netherlands, or a formal one such as the Congrès Internationaux d’Architecture Moderne – she remained stalwartly independent.

    Her design style was as distinctive as her way of working, and Gray developed an opulent, luxuriant take on the geometric forms and industrially produced materials used by the International Style designers, such as Le Corbusier, Charlotte Perriand and Mies Van Der Rohe, who shared many of her ideals. Her voluptuous leather and tubular steel Bibendum Chair and clinically chic E-1027 glass and tubular steel table are now as familiar as icons of the International Style as Le Corbusier and Perriand’s classic Grand Confort club chairs, yet for most of her career she was relegated to obscurity by the same proud singularity that makes her work so prized today.

    Source: Design Museum

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